Court orders school district to pay $75,000 for denying boy use of girls’ restroom

According to Christian News Network:

The Supreme Court of Maine has ruled that a local school district discriminated against a male student that identifies as a female when it denied him from using the girls’ restroom.

The court ruled 5-1 on Thursday that the Orono School District violated the Maine Human Rights Act when it offered then-5th grader Wyatt Maines the use of the staff bathroom, but barred him from using the restroom for female students.

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From where does faith come and to whom does it belong?

This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Galatians 3:2–5, NASB

When it comes to the justification by God of His people, shouldn’t the clutter be removed and the rubbish swept away? All aspects of our salvation should be clarified and those things that are only meant to cause confusion or misdirection (showing those with discernment their true source) should be shown for what they really are and cast aside. Then, with a sharp focus, we must look at the truth, which means we go to the source; i.e. The Word of God not some emergent or missional guru. Therefore, in this post we will look at part of Romans 10, in which the Apostle Paul, showing that God has provided a way to justification in His eyes to both Jews and Gentiles, further nails down from where salvation comes, who possesses it, and how they got it. What could be more important than that?

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Rick Warren’s call for Christians to unite with Catholics, ‘Holy Father’ raising concerns

According to Christian News Network:

In a new video, megachurch leader and author Rick Warren is calling for Christians to unite with Roman Catholics and “Pope Francis,” who Warren recently referred to as the “Holy Father”—a move that is raising concerns among Christians nationwide and is resulting in calls for Warren to repent.

Warren made the comments following his visit to the Vatican last month, where he spoke at an interfaith conference on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman.”

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The permanence of justification

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29 NASB

In my younger days when I was working on my undergraduate degree, I had a professor who used to work in a major manufacturing company in the US. He used his experiences there in analogies pertaining to the management topics we were studying. He used one of his former co-workers there as an example, a bad example, as he taught us how we should work together toward our common goals, et cetera. This fellow’s nickname at that company was ‘Yeah-but.’ He told us that it never failed that in meetings when someone had a solution to an issue or a concept of a better way to do things, this fellow would always interrupt and start his diatribe against it with the words, “Yeah, but…!”

I have had many encounters with “religious yeah-buts” on my blog. In most cases the encounter went something like the following. I had written a post dealing with our Justification and the “religious yeah-but” responded to it with something like, “Yeah, but what about those sins you have committed since God saved you?” In every case it did not matter how I replied to the “religious yeah-but”, he or she was convinced that, yes he or she was saved by grace through faith, but it was his or her obedience, et cetera, that kept him or her there. If the “religious yeah-but” sinned, he or she lost his or her salvation and had to be re-justified I suppose. Is this biblical?

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The cleansing power of God’s Word

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15:3, NASB

All people are born dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). This condition of spiritual death also means that each person, though desperate for fulfillment that can only be satisfied in God, cannot come to God, know God, or even seek Him. Because of this, they pursue fulfillment from everything around them. The number one method of doing this is via the flesh. The flesh is all about self and self-gratification. The problem with this is that nothing works for very long, including religiosity.

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Pope Francis bows head in ‘silent adoration’ beside Islamic Grand Mufti in Turkey’s Blue Mosque

Christian News Network reports:

In a move that drew some concerns from onlookers worldwide, the Roman Catholic pontiff known as Francis visited Turkey’s Blue Mosque on Saturday, expressing reverence during a moment of prayer observed by the nation’s grand mufti, who led him on a tour of the Islamic facility.

According to reports, Francis took off his shoes, folded his hands and bowed his head, standing silently next to Rahmi Yaran, who serves as the nation’s highest Islamic leader as grand mufti. The two faced Mecca as Yaran prayed with his palms raised.

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The Hebrew Roots folks are again busy telling Christians they are sinning if they celebrate Christmas

The Hebrew Roots folks are out in force again this Christmas season, attempting to convince Christians that they are sinning against God by celebrating Christmas.* Sorry, but I’m going to have to whip out my can of Luke on them for that. After all, if the gospel accounts record Jesus’ birth being proclaimed, angels singing his praises, shepherds rushing to see him, and wise men bringing him gifts some time later, why should we not, as Christians, also have the freedom to:

  • proclaim his birth (using Christmas as a springboard to talk about how God has sent a Savior who died for sinners);
  • sing his praises;
  • dwell on the fact that one day I will bodily be in his presence, just as those who rushed to his side that day were in his presence; and
  • exchange gifts with my loved ones as a way of remembering the greatest Gift of all time, our Savior, who was given to us by God out of his great loving-kindness?

* Please note that I respect the right of my Christian brothers and sisters who choose not to celebrate Christmas. And just as I do not look upon them with disdain, neither should they look upon me with disdain (Col. 2:16).

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Unrepentant sin leads to spiritual blindness

O Lord, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry! For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol. I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit; I have become like a man without strength, Forsaken among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And they are cut off from Your hand. You have put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the depths. Your wrath has rested upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah. You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out. Psalms 88:1–8, NASB

Despite what many so-called Christian leaders are teaching in our day about the necessity of repentance in the life of the believer, the Word of God teaches us something entirely different. In it, we learn that the life, vigor, and comfort of our spiritual life depends much on our actively and deliberately mortifying the sin that clings so closely, which results in genuine repentance. This teaching has unfortunately been neglected much over the last several decades to the point that some scoff at its necessity in the Christian walk. However, if we go back and read the Puritans and others that came before we find that personal holiness has not always been neglected in the Church as it has been in our day.

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Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17, NASB

There is a false belief in much of 21st century Christianity that grew out of the late 20th century push to merge fundamentalism with conservative politics. That false belief is that the U.S. government is somehow supposed to be Christian, and should govern this country within that framework. Is this the role that God gave government? What about the Christian’s role in politics? Should Christians labor and give large sums of money for political purposes, or should those resources and effort be used for God’s Kingdom instead? Martin Luther was often caught in the middle between kings, emperors, and popes, and what he believed God willed for him to do. How did he handle this?

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Religious group seeks to build McDonald’s in a church

According to Fox News:

As church attendance falls, one group believes that the lure of a burger and fries might make church more appealing.

McMass Project, which is the brainchild of Paul Di Lucca – a creative director at the church branding agency Lux Dei Design – is raising funds to put a McDonald’s franchise inside a place of worship.

“Christianity is unable to capture modern audiences,” Di Lucca told NBC News. “There’s a lack of innovation and lack of design thinking in Church communities.”

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Former lesbian turned Christian: ‘We’ve made God little if we believe He cannot change people’

Christian News Network report:

A former lesbian turned Christian is coming out about her conversion from living as a homosexual, and is testifying about the power of God to change a life.

Jackie Hill Perry, 25, is a spoken word poet, and is expecting her first child, a girl, next month along with her husband, poet Preston Perry.

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Thanksgiving trip and sabbatical

and he fell on his face at His feet thanking Him and He was a Samaritan. Luke 17:16, translated from the NA28 Greek text

καὶ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ εὐχαριστῶν αὐτῷ· καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρίτης. Luke 17:16, NA28

I am leaving Wednesday morning to drive from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Wichita, Kansas. My wife and I have been invited to spend the Thanksgiving holiday there with her brother and sister-in-law and their son. He lives here in the OKC area as well and will ride with us on the roundtrip. I will be offline at least through Saturday the 29th. As I prepare for the trip I have noticed some things that have caused me to reflect on how “thankful” I am to God in the midst of some very ugly societal downgrades. The Ferguson, Missouri riots began last night for instance and it looks like there is political maneuvering behind much of how this being both instigated and handled. I am totally aghast at the blatant ignorance of some of the “talking heads” on television about “the rule of law” and our President saying the most absurd thing last night in his speech that the violence and all that went with it in Ferguson was “understandable.” Is it? Should it be?

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National homosexual activist organization targets Christians in latest campaign

According to Christian News Network:

A homosexual activist organization whose co-founder was recently jailed for sex abuse charges has launched an aggressive campaign to convert Christians to the same-sex ‘marriage’ cause.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) describes itself as a “civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.” With over 1.5 million members and supporters, the HRC is the largest such organization in the United States.

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Homosexual activist arrested for child rape was called ‘great friend and supporter’ by President Obama

Christian News Network reports:

A prominent homosexual activist who was arrested for child rape last week was once called by Obama a “great friend and supporter,” and has raised over a million dollars toward his election efforts since 2007.

As previously reported, Terrance Bean, 66, of Portland was taken into custody at his home last Wednesday by the Portland, Oregon Police Bureau Sex Crimes Unit following an indictment by a Lane County Grand Jury. He was booked at the Multnomah County Jail and released after posting 10 percent of his $50,000 bail.

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The fault lines of Christian Reconstructionism/Theonomy

For those unfamiliar with Christian Reconstructionism/Theonomy, here’s a thumbnail sketch: Christian Reconstructionists are the buttoned-up version of Dominionism. On one side of the Dominionism coin, you have the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), who believe they have a mandate from God to take spiritual dominion of the earth. Out of this mistaken belief, which is based on misinterpreting various Bible verses including Genesis 1:28 and Psalm 8 (which are about taking physical dominion of the earth, not spiritual dominion), the NARs have developed errant teachings known as “Joel’s Army” and the “7 Mountain Mandate.”

But flip the Dominionism coin, and you will find Christian Reconstructionism, a much more theologically buttoned-up form of Dominionism, and one that has taken strong root inside the homeschooling community. Christian Reconstructionists work very, very hard to distinguish themselves from the New Apostolic Reformation, with its wackadoodle services where adherents sometimes shake, quiver, bark like dogs, and deceive themselves into believing angel feathers, gold dust and glory clouds are manifesting. Christian Reconstructionists eschew all this nonsense, and rightly so. Christian Reconstructionists are also, as previously noted, much more theologically buttoned-up and biblically grounded. But like their NAR counterparts, Christian Reconstructionists also believe they have a mandate from God to reclaim the culture, and the world.

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God’s grace and God’s justice

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Jude 1:17–23, NASB

I just watched on Fox News the the last couple of hours coverage of the Grand Jury decision in the St. Louis County, Missouri not to indict Police Office Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. I listened to the entire speech of the the prosecutor, so I had a very thorough understanding of the process and how the evidence went down in that case. However, his speech was then followed by questions from the media. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did those people actually listen to his speech? Do they have no understanding whatsoever of what the term “rule of law” means? It was as if they were demanding that his prosecutor override all the evidence and indict the policeman in the case because so much “political pressure” from all directions demanded it. I thought that, with a few exceptions, those reporters would have been given a failing grade from my newspaper reporting class professor at Oklahoma State University back in 1970. As the prosecutor left the microphone and headed to the door, I heard one of the reporters yell after him, “How are you going to sleep tonight…?”

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Obedience, a word study

Paul, a bond- servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1–7, NASB

Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς κλητοὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Romans 1:1–7, NA28

Part of the process I go through to determine what God wants me to write about or what to study is, of course, prayer and meditation. That meditation involves searching sacred Scripture, seeking God’s truth. Sometimes that involves going deeper where I stop and dig deeper into a certain word or truth. Due to the subject matter of the last several posts, many of the comments lately have felt with apostasy in many areas of the visible church. Through that have I became convinced that I needed to look up the Greek lexical definitions for the noun and verb forms of our English words “obedience” and “to obey.” From there I decided to do a study of how these words are used in the New Testament and that would give us the understanding of the writers of those books of the Christians’ obligations to know and obey God’s commands.

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Christians cannot strain toward the goal unless they are truly in the race

I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 1 Corinthians 2:3–7, NASB

When we observe those “Christian Leaders” espousing the social activism of new evangelicalism, which is rooted in Semi-Pelagianism and Humanism, it should make us wonder at what motivates them. Why would these people seek to create a new version of Christianity? I suppose it is that they see that what they are seeking to replace has “failed” because so many young people want nothing to do with it. Therefore, they desire to create a new Christianity that uses the marketing techniques of the world and entertainment to entice people to be part of a church that is new and exciting. Gone is any call to repent of sins. Sin is hardly, if ever, mentioned. Instead of calling on God for mercy and seeking the Son for salvation from the Father’s coming judgment, they are told to come to Jesus and let Him into their lives so He can make their life better.

What are the leaders of this movement missing? What is wrong with what they are doing? It is not wrong to want to reach the lost with the Gospel. No, we should be doing that, but it is very wrong to make every Sunday morning into a show that only appeals to the flesh. Instead of worshipping our Lord God in referential fear, they have a rock concert. The leaders of this movement may indeed create large churches and international ministries by doing what they do, but is it right?

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From where does the righteousness of the Christian come?

but what things were gain to me, these I have considered loss on account of Christ. But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already been perfected, but I press on if indeed I my lay hold of that for which I was also laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7–11, translated from the NA28 Greek text

From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? If you think that is an unimportant question or one that we do not need to spend much time on, then you could quite possibly be one who is either the next victim of a deceiver or have already been deceived. If we look at the opposition to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by professing Christians, in other words, either apostates or the religious who believe they are Justified through their religion, they claim righteousness comes from some other way beyond what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ says. Many of these were like I was growing up as a Southern Baptist. My understanding of salvation was that one had to be religious, but it all started with that profession of faith that was followed by Baptism, which I did in the fourth grade (1960). I was not regenerate. I was religious and since it was all works of the flesh in order to please God (law), I could not do a very good job of it nor did I like nor did I keep it up very long. However, my heart goes out to all those like me who grew up like me and did that same thing. I pray that God has mercy on you and draw you into His light and obedience to the Gospel as He did me in 1986.

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Humble service vs. the Young, Restless and Reformed

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind, doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit but in humility, esteeming one another above self. Philippians 2:1–3, translated from the NA28 Greek text

Over the last several years there has been a “movement” in the visible church that has been made up of group called the “Young, Restless and Reformed”, or YRR. I have always been puzzled by the YRR group. Why? God’s truth, especially the Gospel, divides, but those who are truly in Christ are called continually in sacred Scripture to come together, to unite in love and humility as exemplified by Christ himself. On the other hand, what I see in the YRR folks is a co-opting of a genuine restoration of Reformation theology by those who are attempting to blend it with the seeker sensitive, cultural relevance, and gospel contextualization which are all corrupting influences that move the focus back to the mis-direction mainstream evangelicalism was going, but with the hope or desire of “getting a pass” because they proclaim themselves to “be reformed.” As those in the seeker sensitive paradigm have found though, emotionalism and getting people to work through motivations other than the genuine moving of the Holy Spirit will work only for a short period of time. Why? It is all of this flesh – and that means it is of this world. That is not what Christians are called to do. I believe the recent tragic implosion of Mark Driscoll’s ministry is a prime example of what we are talking about.

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For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain

Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Philippians 1:1–2, NA28

Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:1–2, translated from the NA28 Greek text

In vv. 1–2, Paul and Timothy give the standard Christian greeting that was very common in the early Church. Notice that it is from both Paul and Timothy, who identify themselves as δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (slaves of Christ Jesus), but it addressed to all the ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (saints in Christ Jesus) at Philippi. The word “saints” translates ἁγίοις, which is actually a form of an adjective that means “holy.” That root word is ἅγιος or hagios, which in the dative form, as used in this passage, designates “saints.” Paul used this word in Ephesians 2:19 saying, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Who are the “overseers”? This is the Greek word ἐπισκόποις, the dative, plural of ἐπίσκοπος or episkopos, “overseer, bishop.” In the Greek, it literally refers to someone who “looks over” or “watches over” a group of people. It is translated as “overseers” or “elders” in the church. Paul gives their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7. What we must understand, my brethren, is that in 1 Peter 2:25, Peter refers to our Lord Jesus Christ as “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Therefore, Jesus is the chief overseer of our lives. Those men who are appointed as elders and such in our churches function on His behalf and should use His life as a model.

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